Have you ever wished you could travel more? You’re not the only one. A survey conducted by OnePoll earlier this year showed that 76% of Americans wished they could travel more. When you’re dreaming of taking a trip to the beach or some far flung city, you take a look at your budget and realize that taking a trip to a nearby restaurant is probably a better idea than jetting off to Paris.
One of the biggest barriers to travelling more is the cost. But, if you take full advantage of your credit card travel rewards and loyalty programs, you can get your wheels off the ground for a much more palatable price. Your credit card’s travel rewards can be lucrative, when you’re making the most of them. Signing up for airlines loyalty programs can also net big savings, but the miles are notoriously hard to cash in on.
It might seem like a full-time job to actually take advantage of these rewards, but this week, we’ve done all the work for you. If you follow these seven tips, you’ll be well on your way to riding your travel rewards all the way to a free vacation!
Sign up for all potentially relevant rewards programs
Make sure you’re not missing out on any miles or points. Make a list of all of the airlines and hotel chains you regularly use, and sign up for all of their loyalty programs. This may result in a few extra emails, but the payoff that comes with miles or notifications about big sales is worth it.
Choose the right rewards credit card
There are a million travel rewards credit cards out there, and they’re all trying to convince you that their rewards are the best. To decide which card will net the most free travel for you, looking at the fine print is important. Never fly JetBlue? Getting the JetBlue rewards card from Barclays may not be the right choice. Pick a card that rewards you for purchases you make regularly, and gives you points towards airlines you use often or with good general travel conversion rates. If the card has an annual fee, make sure the value you’d expect to redeem from travel rewards every year exceeds that fee.
If you’re getting a new card, check the sign-up bonus
Lots of rewards cards have lucrative sign-up bonuses, if you spend a certain amount over your first 90 days with the card. If you can meet the spending threshold for those bonuses without overspending, we recommend comparing the value of various sign up bonuses as another consideration when choosing a new card. These bonuses can net you enough points for a whole trip!
Once you have the right credit card, always pay with it
The more you spend on your credit card, the more travel rewards you’ll earn. Don’t spend more than you usually would in total, but put as much of your spending as possible on your credit card to maximize points. If you’re going out to dinner with friends and that’s a purchase that earns you points, pay the full bill and get paid back. There are lots of sneaky ways like this to earn more rewards without actually spending more; take full advantage when you can!
Airline mileage malls
Love online shopping? You can earn airline miles for the online shopping you’re already doing. Instead of going directly to your favorite retailer’s website, go to it through your airline of choice’s mileage mall. As long as you’re already part of their loyalty program (see Tip #1!), you can earn points for every dollar you spend shopping.
Airline dining programs
Finally, a chance to get rewarded for eating out instead of staying home and cooking. Most airlines offer dining programs where all you have to do is link a credit card, and you’ll start earning miles when you spend at registered restaurants. If you already eat out frequently, this is an easy way to put more towards your dream trip. If not, signing up for the program could make you feel better when you do splurge on a night out.
Know your credit card’s travel rewards terms
Last (but definitely not least), make sure that you know your travel reward card terms well. This will help you know what purchases to make to earn the most rewards, and if and when travel rewards expire. The same can be said for airline mile terms at each loyalty program you’ve signed up for – you wouldn’t want to lose out on hard-earned miles because they’ve expired!
If you follow these seven steps, you’ll be picking up credit card travel rewards and airline miles in no time! Combine your airline miles and your credit card travel rewards to make sure you’re paying as little for your vacations as possible. Guess that trip to the beach isn’t so far out of reach after all.